Category Archives: Mains

Vegetable Balti

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While cooking my Chicken Korma recipe, I thought I would make my life a little more fun (or should that be difficult) by making a second curry dish for the first time too, on our curry night. This is one of my girlfriends’ favourite currys, so had a search online and came across this Vegetable Balti Curry recipe on the BBC Good Food site. I knew she would be happy when telling her it would be high in fibre and vitamins, while low in fat and hopefully very tasty!

This recipe sounded perfect, though I wish I could have made the paste for this as well as the Korma! Instead, I had to get a jar of Patak’s Balti curry paste which I had never used before, but fingers crossed was hoping would do the job ok.

After getting all the ingredients for the Korma ready and having made the Korma paste, I set about peeling, chopping and cutting all the veg needed for this dish. I didn’t use all the same veg as mentioned on the Good Food site but used what I had in my vegetable racks, which was close enough! My only major change was using parsnips instead of turnips and only using half the amount of butternut squash and making up the rest, using some sweet potatoes that needed to be used up.

I found this such a simple recipe to make and was really glad I could leave this to cook and simmer while working on the more complex Korma at the same time.

The best part about this curry, was the fact my girlfriend and I both thought it tasted as good as the Vegetable Balti from our local restaurant. We ate half of it on our curry night and froze the rest in the hope of having it again one night soon! This I think, will become a regular home favourite with us.

Serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion , thickly sliced
1 large garlic clove , crushed
1 eating apple , peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
3 tbsp balti curry paste (we used Patak's)
1 medium butternut squash , peeled and cut into chunks
2 large carrots , thickly sliced
200g turnips , cut into chunks
1 medium cauliflower , weighing about 500g/1lb 2oz, broken into florets
400g can chopped tomatoes
425ml hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp chopped coriander , plus extra to serve
150g pot low-fat natural yogurt

1 Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the onion, garlic and apple and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the curry paste.

2 Tip the fresh vegetables into the pan and add the tomatoes and stock. Stir in 3 tbsp of the coriander. Bring to the boil, turn the heat to low, put the lid on and cook for half an hour.

3 Remove the lid and cook for another 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the liquid has reduced a little. There should be some liquid remaining, but not too much. Season with salt and pepper.

4 Mix 1 tbsp of coriander into the yogurt to make a raita. Ladle the curry into bowls, drizzle over some raita and sprinkle with extra coriander. Serve with the remaining raita and warm mini naan breads.

Try different vegetables – shallots, broccoli, swede, sweet potatoes, peppers and mushrooms would go well together.

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Chicken Korma

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I thought it was about time to try a recipe from a fellow food blogger after a month of writing my own, so after coming across Back to the Chopping Board by James Brewer (after he came up with the Farewell Floyd Food Blogging Event), I noticed he was a man after my own heart and enjoyed a curry or two!

Having wanted to make a curry from the ground up for a very long time, I thought his Chicken Korma would be ideal to try as you get to make the paste as well. I believe the recipe is an adaption of a Jamie Oliver one from his Ministry of Food book. The pictures of the curry being made on James’ site made me want to have a go as part of a curry night I wanted to do.

After going through my spice cupboard, I realised I only needed to get a few extra bits, so popped to the shops to get a green chilli, some ground almonds and desiccated coconut, some fresh corriander, a tin of coconut milk and a pot of creme fraiche. This was going to be a cheap meal as well as fun to make! The only thing I didnt use from the original recipe was the chickpeas as I am not a great fan of them.

I got everything washed, chopped, cut, crushed and prepared, took my laptop into the kitchen (my printer had run out of ink, so I had no way of printing it off) and got to work cooking this recipe. At the same time as creating this dish, I also cooked a Vegetable Balti from the BBC Good Food site, as I wanted to make my life a little more difficult! I’ll write about that dish in another post.

This recipe was great fun to make and I would recommend it to anyone to try. Making the paste at the start was the best bit, rather than having to use a bought one. I was really pleased how it came out!

All I will say is, this is the best korma I have made, and even though there are some great sauces and pastes out there, nothing can beat making it yourself from the ground up. This is definately one I will be making again. It tasted delicious!

Korma Paste

2 cloves Garlic
Ginger, thumb-sized piece
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 tbsp Groundnut Oil
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 fresh Green Chilli
3 tbsp Desiccated Coconut
2 tbsp Ground Almonds
Coriander, small bunch
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Coriander Seeds

1 Toast the cumin and coriander seeds together in a dry pan for a few minutes until they are golden. Remove from the heat and when cooled, grind them up in a pestle and mortar.

2 Peel the garlic and ginger and roughly chop.

3 Place all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until you have a smooth paste.

Chicken Korma

2 Large Chicken Breasts
2 Medium Onions
Ginger, thumb sized piece
Coriander, small bunch
Groundnut Oil
Butter, knob of
Korma Paste (see above)
1 x 400 ml tin Coconut Milk
2 heaped tbsp Desiccated Coconut
1 heaped tbsp Ground Almonds
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
4 tbsp Creme Fraiche

1 Firstly cut the chicken into cubes.

2 Peel and finely slice your onions, peel and finely chop the ginger, pick the coriander leaves and finally chop the stalks.

3 Put a large pan on a high heat, and add a few lugs of oil. Put the chicken into the pan and brown lightly on all sides for around 5 minutes, then remove from the pan.

4 Add the butter, onions, ginger and coriander stalks. Keep stirring it frequently to ensure none of it catches and burns, but turns golden evenly for around 10 mins.

5 Add the chicken back into the pan, and cook for another 2-3 mins.

6 Put in your Korma paste, stir well and cook for around 2-3 mins to help cook the rawness out.

7 Pour in your coconut milk, ground almond and desiccated coconut. Fill the empty coconut milk tin half with water and pour into the pan and give a good stir. Bring back to the boil, then turndown the heat and simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on. Check the curry regularly to make sure it is not drying out – if it does add a little water.

8 When the chicken is tender, season with salt and pepper and stir through Creme Fraiche.

Serve with Pilau Rice and sprinkle over the coriander leaves.

Enjoy!

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Shepherds Pie / Cottage Pie

This recipe comes from my Brother in Canada who sent me this to share with everyone, after he was sent it by our mum back in 2007. I think he enjoys making this to remind him of the delicious home cooked food we were brought up with.

Apparently there is a dish called ‘Pâté chinois’ in Canada already (Chinese pie) which is a French Canadian dish similar to that of Shepherds or Cottage Pie – however it seems to have an additional layer of canned corn in the middle between the meat and potato and is usually eaten with ketchup mixed in.

500g Potatoes sliced then cooked and mashed with olive oil and or butter or spread - salt & pepper
500g Extra-lean Minced Beef or Minced Lamb
1 Small Onion – finely chopped
1 dessert spoon Cornflour - you may need more to thicken you must decide.
Stock or water and Bovril or something similar
Ground Bay Leaves, Celery Salt or something or nothing, whatever you prefer
Salt & Pepper

Some people add a half can of chopped tomatoes, red wine, and garlic, but this then becomes a Bolognese sauce.

1 Put meat in a saucepan and cook until meat is browned and the fat runs. (Drain off some of the fat if there is a lot of it).

2 Add the onion and mix in. If using other ingredients add them – then and cook until all the juice is incorporated, over a medium heat.

3 Sprinkle over the cornflour – cook for 1 minute stirring it in.

4 Then add the stock to the thickness you want – cook for 1-2 minutes stirring all the time

5 Put into an ovenproof dish – spread over the prepared potatoes and if you want, a sprinkle of grated cheese.

6 Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes until potatoes have browned.

Enjoy!

Pics to follow…

King Prawn Jalfrezi

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Having had a few days of rich heavy food, my girlfriend wanted me to cook something lighter for supper and promptly presented me with her latest edition of Top Sante magazine, asking me to cook the King Prawn Jalfrezi recipe, knowing full well we had all the ingredients in the fridge and cupboard.

So after reading the article and the blurb about turmeric being famed for its antioxidants and beneficial to your liver (which is probably why she wanted it), I raided the fridge and cupboard and got everything I needed ready to make it.

I had never made a Jalfrezi before so had no idea whether it was going to be a hot or mild curry. Suprisingly, it was very simple to create, and looked very similar to the wonderful glossy photo used in the magazine aside from the excellent lighting used!

This is one recipe I never thought I would create, especially as I love creating Balti’s and Korai’s and Massala’s and as a ‘supposed’ heathly variation, it was full of flavour and very filling and a simple recipe I would recommend to anyone.

2 tbs Sunflower Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Large Onion (sliced)
1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
Salt to taste
1 Large Green Pepper (sliced)
300g raw shelled King Prawns
2 ripe Tomatoes (sliced)
Handful fresh coriander leaves washed and chopped

1 Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and fry the cumin seeds until they start to darken.

2 Add the onion and fry for about 5 mins.

3 Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir in for a few seconds until well blended.

4 Add the rest of the spice powders and salt and cook for 3 minutes over a low heat.

5 Add the sliced peppers and cook it for another 8 mins.

6 Add the prawns and keep stirring for around 3 mins until they turn opaque.

7 Pour in 100ml of water and bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 3-4 mins.

8 Add the tomatoes and cook until soft but not mushy.

Serve with the fresh coriander garnish and rice.

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Chicken, Porcini and Rocket Risotto

I am always up for experimenting and changing a recipe if I find a good basis, to add something new or adjust it for my tastes and this is one such recipe – after all, this is what I am learning that cooking is all about.

I love a good Italian Ask style Chicken and Mushroom Risotto – its the same wherever you have it and I have not had a bad one yet! So when I saw the Porcini and Spinach Risotto recipe in a suppliment with a free copy of an Olive Magazine, I thought I would have a go at it, having never made a risotto before and keen to keep trying to learn new things.

So I followed the recipe to the letter and it was very good, if not lacking something though – so I reminded myself of the Chicken and Mushroom Risotto’s I had had before and decided that next time I cooked it I would add chicken to the recipe.

A month went by and we decided to make it again and added the seasoned chicken that I had browned off at the start, along with a change from spinach to rocket – I had no spinach in my cupboard or fridge but had an abundance of rocket, some which was growing in my ‘cut and grow’ salad leaf box.

My girlfriends reaction to the changed recipe was ‘wow thats as good as you get in a restaurant’ which was great to hear and a lot more than had I expected! Due to that reaction, I have since made it several times at home and also for my parents on a visit back to the family home – they loved it too.

It certainly isnt rocket science (no pun intended… honestly) and has probably been made a thousand ways like this before but for me to learn to put ingredients together in this way and make something that I love to eat time and time again, cant be that bad!

So here is my Chicken, Porcini and Rocket Risotto variation:

25g Dried Porcini
2 Chicken Breasts (diced)
50g Butter
1 Onion (sliced)
1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
250g Chestnut Mushrooms (the magazine said 200g but every punnet I buy is 250g so why waste the extra 50g)
150g Risotto Rice
1 Glass of White Wine (Large preferably)
750ml Vegetable Stock
50g Rocket
Parmesan shavings

1 Soak the porcini in boiling water for 10 minutes and strain through a sieve, keeping the liquid for the risotto later.

2 After soaking, roughly chop the porcini.

3 Heat the butter in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic till soft.

4 At the same time, brown the diced chicken breasts in some olive oil and season and put to one side once cooked.

5 Once the onions are soft, add the sliced chestnut mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

6 Then add the chicken, porcini and rice and stir together until coated.

7 Tip in the wine until it is absorbed.

8 Gradually add the stock and porcini liquid, stirring, until the rice is tender with some bite.

9 Stir in the rocket until wilted.

Serve with parmesan shavings and enjoy!

NB I have noticed that the more organic the chestnut mushrooms are (they seem a lot darker) the darker the dish and rice is once cooked. Using supermarket mushrooms, the rice and dish appears a lot lighter once cooked. If it is darker, dont panic – you havent burnt it!!

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Porcini on Foodista

Simple Sweet Potato and Other Veg Soup (Gluten Free)‏

Having got in touch with my family for further inspiration for the blog, my sister emailed me this recipe that sounded perfect to share with everyone…

I first fell in love with sweet potatoes while living in Sydney – where you can’t move for colourful delis jam-packed with antipasti and homemade soups, such as beetroot, pumpkin and of course my favourite… sweet potato. Perfect to pop in and buy for dinner after a long day at work. This recipe was inspired by Sydney and the process is loosely based on Delia Smith’s soup making. Good and old-fashioned, but very hearty and cosy food (they have winters in Sydney too!).

Serves: 6

3 sweet potatoes
1 leek
1 white onion
4 carrots
1 large potato
50g (1.8 oz) butter
425ml (approx 3/4 pint) of chicken or vegetable stock (gluten free)
140ml (approx 1/4 pint) semi-skimmed milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season

1 Peel and roughly dice all the vegetables into approximately 1cm (0.39-inch) thick cubes. Add them all to a large, thick-bottomed pan and add the butter, stirring the vegetables until they are all coated. Leave on a very low heat with a lid on the pan for 15 minutes to allow the vegetables to gently sweat. Stir occasionally.

2 Then, add the stock and the milk and stir. Leave to simmer with the lid on the pan for another 20 minutes, Do not let the soup reach boiling point or the milk might burn. Stir occasionally.

3 After the 20 minutes, the vegetables should be lovely and soft.

4 Then the fun bit – either pop into a liquidiser or use a hand-held device like me, straight in the pan – and liquidise away. You need to make sure all the lumps are gone.

5 If you used a big liquidiser, return the soup back to the pan when you’ve finished blending.

6 Gently heat the soup through in the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.

The soup will be thick – just how I like it, but it can be thinned out with a cup or two of water if you find it too much.

Serve with chunky bread or the next best gluten-free variety.

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Chicken in White Sauce and Courgette Bake

My first memories of this dish are from the early eighties when mum used to make it as a quick meal when we got back in late from some place or another. Now she says she was given this recipe by her mum but has no idea where she got it from in turn. Perhaps it came from a meal she made up of home grown courgettes, left over chicken from a sunday roast and some white sauce – who knows?

Making this for the first time in years after we got back in late last night, brought back the memories of how much I used to enjoy this very simple meal. I have since added a new culinary twist to the dish – my 21st century addition to the family recipe – white wine.

It took me, using the recipe below, about 5 to 10 mins (at a slow tired pace) to put the ingredients together and 20 to 25 mins to bake in the oven – enough time to read my post, newspaper headlines and begin to unwind.

All I will say is that I had never made it for my partner before and she loved it as much as I did all over again.

Amounts depend on how hungry you are:

2 Tins of M&S Chunky Chicken in White Sauce
2 Courgettes
Grated Cheese for the topping
1 Glass of White Wine

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F Gas 4 or 170C Fan Oven.

1 Thinly slice the courgettes length ways and place them in the bottom of an oven proof dish then season well.

2 Pour over the sliced courgettes the glass of white wine.

3 Empty the tins of chicken in white sauce over the courgettes.

4 Cover the bake with the cheese for the topping.

5 Bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 mins and take out once the topping is browning nicely.

6 Serve with… well just about anything you like – crusty bread, potatoes, beans etc.

7 Enjoy!

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